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May 31, 2018

Prices Down, So Are Exports, but More Coffee Machines Imported

The latest economic report is a mix of news, good and not so good. Though as we reported on Wednesday night, fuel prices have gone up seven times since the start of the year and that is a driver of the economy, SIB says it’s costing slightly less to obtain the basic goods and services. Prices are down overall through the first four months of 2018, though only slightly, according to the Statistical Institute of Belize. The April figures show a decline of zero point five percent from last year, and the inflation rate to date is a negative zero point two percent. Fuel and lubricants prices rose more than five percent compared to last year but the transport category was down nearly the same amount due to a drop in international airfare prices. Butane gas lifted prices for housing and utilities up by zero point seven percent, offsetting a dip in prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages including meats, tea and certain vegetables. However, potatoes and lime prices rose, reflecting scarcity in the latter case. All municipalities except for Punta Gorda Town saw prices fall in all categories, while P.G. residents ended up paying more for their goods. In contrast, San Ignacio and Santa Elena saw prices fall by more than two percent, especially for food and alcoholic beverages. In terms of trade, Belizeans are buying a lot more – everything from telecommunications parts, fertilizers, detergents, to beer and liquor and oddly, coffee roasting machines. Overall imports are up nearly eight million dollars through the first four months of the year. Exports continue to fall, with a difference in sugar shipments resulting revenue tumbling by eleven and a half million dollars. Other major export earners such as citrus concentrate, marine exports, and banana sales helped compensate. Over the first four months of the year, exports were down nearly twenty percent over the same period last year, again due to scheduling differences in bulk sugar shipments and lower world market prices.

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